Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 29, 2011: Obama Addresses Nation; “Bipartisan” Debt Plan Only Option — Harry Reid Moves Toward Senate Vote — John Boehner has House Votes — Sunday Showdown on Debt Crisis

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

THE HEADLINES: DEBT CEILING SHOWDOWN: OBAMA VS CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS

Philip Scott Andrews/The New York Times

President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the U.S. debt ceiling talks, from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington on Friday.

JULY 29, 2011: OBAMA ADDRESSES THE NATION ON THE DEBT CRISIS — HARRY REID MOVES FORWARD WITH SENATE VOTE ON DEBT PLAN — SHOWDOWN ON SUNDAY

President Obama says Boehner plan has no chance of becoming law: Speaking four days before a potentially disastrous U.S. default, President Obama said the plan that House Speaker John A. Boehner is working furiously to pass “does not solve the problem. It has no chance of becoming law.”
He urged the Senate to move quickly to produce a bipartisan plan to raise the debt ceiling. “The time for putting party first is over,” he said.

“Any solution to avoid default must be bipartisan. I urge Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House, a plan that I can sign by Tuesday.” — President Barack Obama

“The time for putting party first is over. The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now. And I’m confident that we can solve this problem.” — President Barack Obama

“I know the Senate compromise bill Democrats have offered is not perfect in Republican eyes. Nor is it perfect for Democrats. But together, we must make it work for all of us. It is the only option. The settlement on the table will never give either party everything it wants. But it already meets the Republicans’ demands.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“You’ve got the speaker of the House doing his job. Speaker Boehner has been doing the hard work of governing, working day and night to put together a bill that can actually pass the House of Representatives and end this crisis now…. It’s about time our Democratic friends join us.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

“Another day wasted while the clock ticks. Now is the time to compromise so we can solve this problem and reduce the deficit.” — White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote Thursday night on Twitter

  • Timeline: How U.S. debt talks spiraled into crisis: The United States drifted closer to a credit rating downgrade and default on Wednesday as President Barack Obama’s Democrats and their Republican rivals worked on competing plans to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling. Following is a timeline of the U.S. debt debate… – Reuters, 7-29-11
  • Obama Calls for Debt Deal as Boehner Looks for Votes: President Obama called on Congress on Friday to produce a fiscal plan that could be passed with votes from both parties, as House Republicans hardened their position and Senate Democrats said they would move ahead with their own plan.
    After a caucus meeting to round up the votes needed for House passage, Republicans said that Speaker John A. Boehner had agreed to modify his plan, which raises the debt ceiling only enough to last a few months, to make the next round of spending cuts and debt relief contingent on Congressional approval of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
    That, lawmakers confirmed, won pledges of enough votes to allow Mr. Boehner to pass his bill, which was put on hold at the last minute on Thursday, with only Republican votes, including those of many from the Tea Party faction. But it would only make the House bill more unpalatable to the White House and the Democratic leadership.
    “Any solution to avoid default must be bipartisan,” Mr. Obama said. “I urge Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House, a plan that I can sign by Tuesday.”
    Mr. Obama urged Republicans in the House and Senate to abandon a bill that “does not solve the problem” and has no chance of passage in the Senate.”…. – NYT, 7-30-11
  • Obama urges Senate to forge compromise on debt limit, rejects House efforts: President Obama, warning that time is running out to lift the federal debt ceiling, said Friday that a House GOP plan has “no chance of becoming law,” and he urged Senate Democrats and Republicans to come together on a “bipartisan compromise.”
    Obama spoke as House Republican leaders labored Friday to rescue a debt-limit plan opposed by their party’s arch-conservatives. But he reiterated that the House leaders are wasting their time by trying to pass a measure that includes a short-term raise of the debt ceiling.
    On Capitol Hill, the House GOP leaders offered party members a reworked plan Friday morning designed to appeal to the tea party-allied conservatives, and several previously skeptical lawmakers said they would now support it. Members who exited a House Republican Conference meeting said the new proposal would not change the first step of their original two-stage plan to raise the debt limit but would call for Congress to send to the states a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution as a prerequisite for the second stage of the debt-ceiling increase to take effect early next year…. – WaPo, 7-29-11
  • Obama Calls for Bipartisan Solution on Debt: President Obama on Friday morning urged deadlocked lawmakers to find a way to resolve their differences and compromise as the clock ticks toward the possibility of a default if the nation’s debt ceiling is not raised by Tuesday.
    “What’s clear now is that any solution to avoid default must be bipartisan,” Mr. Obama said. “It must have the support of both parties that were sent here to represent the American people, not just one faction.”
    “I urge Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to find common ground,” he added in brief remarks in the Diplomatic Reception Room.
    Mr. Obama urged Republicans in the House and Senate to abandon a bill that “does not solve the problem” and has no chance of passage in the Senate.
    “There are a lot of crises in the world that we can’t always predict or avoid,” he said. “This isn’t one of those crises.”… – NYT, 7-29-11
  • Obama ready to work through weekend for debt fix: President Barack Obama said on Friday he was ready to work with top Democrats and Republicans through the weekend to get a debt ceiling accord.
    In remarks at the White House, Obama said he was confident a solution could be reached despite the impasse that has raised the prospect of a U.S. credit rating downgrade and default…. – Reuters, 7-29-11
  • Obama urges action as debt stalemate continues: With just days left to reach a deal, negotiations over raising the debt ceiling remain stalemated, but President Obama said Friday morning that he was confident a bipartisan solution is achievable.
    Even as he expressed optimism, however, Mr. Obama delivered a stern warning to Congress: “For all the intrigue and all the drama that’s taking place on Capitol Hill right now, I’m confident that — but as I said earlier, we are now running out of time. It’s time for everybody to step up and show the leadership the American people expect.”
    Mr. Obama delivered his remarks from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room — a setting perhaps chosen to send a message to the House, where diplomacy appeared to be sorely lacking Thursday night. Conservative Republicans on Thursday delivered a stinging rebuke against House Speaker John Boehner, when they refused to support his debt limit plan, which would have increased the U.S. borrowing limit by up to $900 billion while cutting more than $900 billion in spending over the next decade…. – CBS News, 7-29-11
  • With House debt ceiling bill stalled, Harry Reid makes his move: With House action stalled, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Friday he’d take the lead and move his bill to raise the national debt limit and avert an economy-shaking default next week.
    Calling his plan “the last train out of the station,” Reid said there are only hours to act before Tuesday’s Treasury deadline, so he plans to file a procedural motion Friday to move towards a final vote in the next few days.
    “That is why, by the end of the day today, I must take action on the Senate’s compromise legislation,” he said.
    Republicans are opposed to Reid’s plan, saying that it would give President Barack Obama too long of a debt ceiling increase by extending it through 2012. And they criticize its proposed savings of $1 trillion from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, calling it a gimmick.
    But Reid said he was about to make “tweaks” to his plan to win GOP support, which he would need to get 60 votes and break a possible filibuster attempt.
    “A Band-Aid approach to a world crisis is an embarrassment to Congress, to this country and to the world,” Reid said. “Our economy cannot bear this kind of uncertainty any longer.”… – Politico, 7-29-11
  • As debt ceiling deadline looms, default or compromise?: Washington awoke Friday morning to a possibility that has been widely shrugged off for weeks, but suddenly seems chillingly real: Could the government actually default?
    The delay and disintegration of a House vote on the debt limit late Thursday is the latest sign that Congress is mired in legislative gridlock just four days before the Aug. 2 deadline for lifting the country’s borrowing authority.
    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed to return to his bill Friday, but Thursday’s chaos — hours of private meetings, praying and postponed votes — raises fresh concerns that the country is stumbling toward a possible default and downgrade of its credit rating…. – Politico, 7-29-11
  • House GOP tries to rescue debt-limit plan; Obama to make statement: House Republican leaders labored Friday to rescue a debt-limit plan opposed by their party’s arch-conservatives, as President Obama prepared to reenter the fray with a morning statement on the status of negotiations to avert a potentially disastrous U.S. default now only four days away.
    The White House announced that Obama would deliver his previously unscheduled statement at 10:20 a.m. Eastern time. Administration officials indicated earlier that Obama and fellow Democrats remain opposed to the House GOP plan and its provision for a two-stage increase in the federal debt ceiling tied to large spending cuts. The White House wants a single increase in the $14.3 trillion debt limit that would last into 2013, arguing that a series of short-term raises would fail to calm the markets, possibly trigger a credit-rating downgrade and become embroiled in election-year politics.
    House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) called a 10 a.m. meeting with his party members to plot the way forward after he was forced to cancel a vote on his plan late Thursday in the face of persistent opposition from recalcitrant conservatives.
    In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) appealed Friday to his chamber’s Republicans to help him pass his compromise bill and invited Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to a new round of negotiations. He urged House Republicans to “break away from the shrill voices of the tea party” and return to the party of Ronald Reagan…. – WaPo, 7-29-11
  • Senator Reid: Moving forward with debt limit bill: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Friday said that he “cannot wait any longer” for the Republican-led House of Representatives to act on a debt limit increase and he will begin taking steps to move legislation…. – Reuters, 7-29-11
  • Senate Dems to push ahead with debt-limit bill: The Senate Democratic leader says he will move ahead with a debt-limit bill as a rival proposal remains stalled in the House.
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Friday that his plan would cut $2.5 trillion from the deficit over a decade and avert a debilitating default. He said it’s likely the last chance to save the nation from default with a Tuesday deadline looming. The Nevada Democrat said he has invited his counterpart, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, to negotiate with him.
    Reid’s move sets up a potential showdown vote in the Senate on Sunday. – AP, 7-29-11
  • Reid will move forward on Senate debt-ceiling plan: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Friday morning that he would take action on the Senate’s version of a debt-ceiling compromise, one day after House Republicans postponed Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) debt-ceiling proposal as leaders scrambled to whip up support for the plan.
    “No matter how long Republicans delay, the deadline will not move. We have hours – I repeat, hours – to act,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “That is why, by the end of the day today, I must take action on the Senate’s compromise legislation.”
    “This is likely our last chance to save this nation from default,” Reid added.
    Reid’s remarks came as the White House announced that President Obama would make a statement on the status of debt negotiations at 10:20 a.m. There were no obvious signs of compromise in the Senate as the day began.
    Reid said that he had invited Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to sit down and “negotiate in good faith knowing the clock is running down.”
    “I hope will accept my offer,” Reid said.
    “I know the Senate compromise bill Democrats have offered is not perfect in Republican eyes. Nor is it perfect for Democrats,” he added. “But together, we must make it work for all of us. It is the only option. The settlement on the table will never give either party everything it wants. But it already meets the Republicans’ demands.”
    McConnell took the Senate floor to urge Democrats to back the Boehner’s measure, though it was not at all clear that the House bill will make it to the Senate for consideration.
    “You’ve got the speaker of the House doing his job,” McConnell said. “Speaker Boehner has been doing the hard work of governing, working day and night to put together a bill that can actually pass the House of Representatives and end this crisis now.” “It’s about time our Democratic friends join us,” he said. … – WaPo, 7-29-11
  • Senate Dems to move ahead with debt-limit bill: Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid served notice Friday that he’s pushing ahead with his debt-limit bill as House Speaker John Boehner’s rival measure languished in limbo, further escalating a wrenching political standoff that has heightened fears of a market-rattling government default.
    “This is likely our last chance to save this nation from default,” Reid declared glumly on the Senate floor, as a Tuesday’s deadline drew closer.
    Reid’s move came with Boehner’s bill still in wait of a vote and a bitter standoff between GOP leaders and their conservative rank and file. Demoralized House Republicans were striving for a third straight day to pass the Boehner bill, even though it had virtually no chance of surviving the Senate.
    Reid, D-Nev., said he had invited Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to join him in negotiations.
    “I know the Senate compromise bill Democrats have offered is not perfect in Republican’ eyes. Nor is it perfect for Democrats,” Reid said. “But together, we must make it work for all of us. It is the only option.”
    Reid’s move sets up a showdown vote on Sunday…. – AP, 7-29-11
  • Reid vows Senate will act on debt-limit plan: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed today the Senate will act on his plan to raise the nation’s debt limit, saying the economy should not be held hostage by recalcitrant House Republicans.
    “This is likely our last chance to save our nation from a default,” Reid said this morning, after Speaker John Boehner abruptly called off a vote last night on a GOP plan when he could not muster the votes for passage.
    Reid, D-Nev., implored conservative Republicans to abandon their allegiance to the anti-tax, small government Tea Party movement and “go back to being the party of Ronald Reagan.”
    Reid’s remarks drew a quick retort from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who decried “chest bumping” comments from Democrats who said they would oppose Boehner’s plan once it got to the Senate. McConnell, R-Ky., argued it is the Republicans who are trying to govern…. – USA Today, 7-29-11
  • House Again Seeks Votes, After Failing to Pass Debt Plan: House Republican leaders, who had abruptly put off a vote on their proposal to raise the debt ceiling and cut government spending, called their rank and file back into another closed-door session on Friday to resume their overnight search for the last few votes they need.
    President Obama was expected to comment on the deepening impasse shortly, and there was no clear sign what the next step would be. Among the several possibilities were changes to the House bill, an attempt by Senate Democrats to leapfrog forward with their own plan, or a new attempt to reach a compromise on the part of all the major players.
    In an effort to break the logjam, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, called on Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, to meet with him on Friday to try to resolve to the stalemate, given the failure of House Republicans to advance their own budget proposal.
    “My door is open,” Mr. Reid said as the Senate convened. “I will listen to any idea to get this done in a way that prevents a default and a dangerous downgrade to America’s credit rating. Time is short, and too much is at stake, to waste even one more minute. “The last train is leaving the station,” he said. “This is our last chance to avert default.”
    Mr. McConnell, who had earlier been working with Mr. Reid on a fallback plan, abandoned that attempt and has been supporting the effort by the House speaker, John A. Boehner, to push through a proposal that would raise the debt limit in two stages — an approach flatly rejected by Senate Democrats and the White House. Mr. McConnell also had been talking with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. but broke the conversation off while the Boehner plan was pending.
    Mr. McConnell, too, came to the Senate floor and offered little indication that he was ready to deal, accusing Democrats of devoting recent days to undermining the House plan. “Our Democratic friends in the Senate have offered no solutions to the crisis that can pass either chamber,” he said…. – NYT, 7-29-11
  • White House opposed to short-term debt limit lift: The White House remains opposed to any short-term increase in the debt limit, unless a broader deficit-cutting deal is agreed and needs time to be voted through Congress, a White House official said on Friday. “Our position has not changed,” the official said…. – Reuters, 7-29-11
  • Boehner’s big bid on debt undone from right, left: Despite his image as a button-down Republican, House Speaker John Boehner walked to the brink of a dramatic and historic agreement to change the government’s spending habits.
    But as he twice approached a $4 trillion deficit-reduction deal with President Barack Obama that would have rocked both parties’ bases, Boehner was reeled back in by his caucus’ conservative wing. The muscular, tea party-fueled group not only forced him to abandon a “grand bargain” with Obama, it made him scramble Wednesday to secure the votes for a far more modest deficit-ceiling plan, which in turn is all but doomed in the Senate.
    The events highlight the limits of power for an experienced and well-liked politician who has struggled to budge his caucus’ staunchest conservatives despite constantly reminding them that their party doesn’t control the Senate or White House.
    “The problem with leadership is it has to be conjoined with follower-ship,” Duke University political scientist David Rohde said. “Boehner is not in a position to give orders to his members.”… – AP, 7-28-11
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